Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Challenges and Contests, ROWnd #2

ROWin’ On… Final Update – #24

Goals Update #24 – Final ROW

A bit more of what I wrote, a year ago….


##### ENTRY ##### 2011-06-21, num_words:904, num_minutes:75.971

I’ve been writing in a notebook more, the last few days, and far less here. Yesterday, I had a computer-free day, and those feel good every now and then. I also will always love the feel of and paper, and the connection they forge with my subconscious. I’ve learned to write on a computer, and get to my deeper thoughts, but the process and the thoughts are different, in this medium. Not worse, or better – I see equal value in using both.



##### ENTRY ##### 2011-06-27, num_words:832, num_minutes:28.7845

Okay, I’m back. Whatever I write tonight will probably be exceedingly rambly (and possibly brambly, too, which reminds me of a children’s story I wrote years ago an recently found, but then, already, before the first sentence is done, I’m wandering into other subjects with oblivion). I am very, very tired…..I went to bed at about 5:30am, and had promised Miah I would get up with him at 9:30 because he planned to go to my folks’ at 10 and spend some time doing odd jobs (they pay him, but he says he dorsn’t care nearly as much about the money as he does about the work, because it’s always something interesting).


Stuff Lise did this spring and Nocturnal  Miah…late May pictures.

So, already, that meant only four hours of available sleep (I am not a napper, perhaps most especially not when I am really tired. Sleeping for even a little while gives me a sense of disorientation and grogginess that are far more debilitating to me than bone-deep fatigue is), which is a bare minimum for me. I can get through three or sometimes four days on four or five hours, or a bit less if we’re in the buoying presence of a large group of unschoolers. But this sleep was interrupted once by my own waking, and then twice by Annalise coming to wake me so she could tell me things.


Things like, “Mommy, your face is in the pillow.” She was concerned by the zipper; she didn’t want me to get zipper face!


And, “Mommy, guess what?! I can spell six! S-I-X!” That’s new; yesterday she could not. She’s getting more and more words in her spelling toolbox, mostly though her own experiences and explorations, and she is understandably thrilled and giddy with this brand new power.


Nature Girl Tree Hugger!

And, “I’m watching Mareeps jump over the fence.” That one made no sense at all to my sleep-addled mind, and came 20 minutes before the alarm was going to sound. Later, she reminded me that Mareeps are Pokemon, and they can be counted like sheep. Ahhh, so NOW it makes sense.


When she informed me that the coffee was ready, I gave up all hope of a few extra minutes’ sleep…..


But now, I am at the getting darker part of the day. I’ve done barely any hometending….but that actually feels quite good and restful, because often I drive myself to spend two or three hours on cleaning and organizing every day, and that can build frustration and resentment when I am really too tired to do it.


That is a residual of my upbringing, when if I went to bed at 5am, because the long quiet hours of the night were the most peaceful ones in that volatile, often hostile, household, my father would rouse me at 7am. “You’re just lazy!” The bellow was as close to a good morning as I was going to receive. “Everybody else is up, and you need to be too!” And he would chivvy me, and present me, almost at once, with a list of jobs for me to do. Not having done them would earn yelling, punishing, or maybe even hitting. And, any time my fatigue caught up to me during the day, he would be there to call me lazy, ridicule whatever restful pursuit I had opted for (reading and writing were then, as now, two of my favorites), and set me back on the “straight and narrow” of hard, diligent work.

Transitional walk – the moon….June 2, 2012, Hamilton, NJ.


And, in so ignoring my needs for calm and quiet, my needs for rest (I was a teenager, and it has since been proven that teenagers really do need more sleep than adults do, and tend to be physiologically geared to stay up later), my need to exercise not only my body, but also my ceaselessly hungry mind, to direct the course of my own life to a far greater degree than I was allowed – in ignoring my very PERSONHOOD – he made it nearly impossible for me to come to a place where I can know beyond all doubt that it is good and right and perfectly OK to return to bed when my body and mind are in desperate need of rest.


To be honest, it’s only in the last several weeks that my guilt over time taken to read or write has dissipated to the point where it doesn’t taint the joy I take in these quiet, physically restful, deeply personal activities that expand my sense of the world and myself. The tension is easing, there, and that, as much as anything, is what has enabled me to reclaim my “pipe dream” (so called by that same father) of earning I living through the words I write.


In time, perhaps I will be able to just lay down when I need to, stop, sleep, and know that, rather than the world screeching to a halt and my lazy soul being hopelessly damned, I will simply sleep, and awake refreshed, renewed, and joyfully ready for whatever is next.

Annalise, Jeremiah, and Harry on a gloaming walk…


Round 2 Goals:


  • Read at least as many books as the number of the month (4 in April ; 5 in May; 6 in June) from my bedroom To Be Read piles.
  • Phillipa Fisher and the Dream-Maker’s Daughter (reading aloud with Annalise and Jeremiah) page 214 of 270.
  • I have read 5 of 6 books for this month. 
  • I am on target to complete this goal for this ROWnd.


Water Girl!
  • Read at least 3 articles a week from my To Be Read files on computer, and categorize those I choose to keep or share.
  • I read Being Selfish Rules.
  • I read Concerned about Your Child’s College and Career Success? Leave School.
  • I have read 4 of 4 articles for this week.
  • Overall, I feel I achieve d this goal, in quantity if not definitively. I have missed the goal a week or two, and have made it up the next week. I will call this one a modified success.


  • Read at least 5 blogposts a week (not including my own), and like, comment, and/or share as I am moved to.
  • I read two posts at ROW80. (Karen Huber’s version).
  • I read Experiment Ended.
  • I read Writing Wednesday: Final Round 2 Check In.
  • I read ROW80 (Anne Stanley’s version).
  • I have read 6 of 6 posts for this week.
  • Again, I have, on average, completed this goal. Some weeks were a bit short; others a bit over.
  • I am calling this a success for this ROWnd.


Water Boy!


  • Create flash fiction, short stories, dialogues, character sketches, alternate scenes, and poetry for  Chameleon’s Dish.  Wander cow trails, and learn these people and their lives more fully.
  • I am in the midst of a scene that may become the prologue.
  • I have written flash fiction, short stories, dialogue, alternate scenes, a poem, and a character sketch for this WIP.
  • I will call this goal a success, more or less. Although I did not create a lot for each area, I have a better sense of the characters and their stories, which was the objective behind the goal..and it was a delightful fresh breath after the focused draft writing of Round 1!
  • Pull material from 750 words posts not part of the Chameleon’s Dish first draft.
  • I have elected to focus only on the June 2011 posts this ROWnd.
  • I have completed transferring and clipping the June posts.
  • I have complete this (modified) goal.
  • Create essays, stories, and other pieces based upon these writings.
  • I have done this in a largely organic manner, using whole posts as endpieces for these goal updates, saving a few for future editing as stand-alone essays, and being influenced by what I am rereading.
  • I count this goal as successfully completed.
    Every party should have pizza with rainbow sprinkles, no? =D


  • Create story arc for  Blood and Breath.
  • I currently have completed the story arc through Chapter 19.
  • A natural length for the story seems to be about 25 chapters.
  • Each chapter is taking between 10-30 minutes, and I suspect there are 6 chapters and an epilogue remaining. Thus, I will have another hour or two’s work to complete this goal before or during ROWnd 3.
  • It does not seem likely that I will complete this goal before the round ends. However, I feel very good about what I have created, and I will continue on with the story arc until it is complete.


  •  Input Chameleon’s Dish into Scrivener; possibly begin rewrite.
  • I have input through Chapter 16(“Life, Mirrored”).
  • There are a few mistakes in the way I input things; I will fix those as I work on my editing/rewriting.
  • There were 25 chapters in the original rough draft, but the first several were expository rather than part of the story.
  • I believe there will be somewhere between 18- 20 chapters in the completed revised rough draft.
  • Each chapter is taking approximately an hour to input. Three chapters remain, and an epilogue, I think, so about 4 hours’ work remain for this goal.
  • I may not finish this goal before the ROWnd ends, but I am very happy with my progress and the great deal I have learned about Scrivener along the way. I will be able to finish this goal at a later point -likely before ROWnd 3 begins, – fairly easily.


    Life in full bloom at Sylvia’s house!
  • Finish father-in-law letter and send.
  • I am not going to finish this before the end of the ROWnd.
  • The matter is too sensitive, and there are things I feel I need to say, and say well.
  • It has been my intention all along to give both the words and myself space, to avoid angst as I write, and to do this thing well.
  • Ar present, I have five sections left to draft, after which I can begin to polish.
  • I will be moving this goal to the next ROWnd, and continuing to work my way through the points I want to explore.
  • Although I can’t call this goal attained, I am very pleased to have (at last) found a format that allows me to maintain calm and avoid responding reactively, and to be moving forward through the process, which, whatever the outcome of the letter itself, has certainly helped me to process my emotions and clarify my purpose. And that is a good thing!




  • Complete the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.
  • This goal has been attained.



  • Complete Cooperative Catalyst post and relative links (interviews with both children, and their “day in the life” posts from last year) ; submit to editor.
  • I completed this goal. Before or during the next ROWnd, I pan on following up with the editor.


  • Create a “flow chart” for posting to shanjeniah and The Unfettered Life.  Use these, and adapt as necessary, throughout the round (with allowances made in April for the challenge).
  • This goal never really took. I did make charts for both blogs. I admire this type of schedule on others’ blogs, but it doesn’t seem to be for me, at this time…maybe someday, but not yet.


  • Add pages/ edit sidebar layout on shanjeniah.
  • I call this goal a success. I added pages, and worked a litte with the layout. I pan on continuing in future ROWnds.


Homecoming Night…


  •  Explore She WritesTwitterStoryDamPinterest;and LinkedIn .  Use, develop, evaluate, adjust.
  • I will call this a success. Although none of these became second nature to me during this ROWnd, that might have a lot to do with the intense creativity of April and May, and the demanding challenges I took on both months. I do have greater famiiarity with these sites, though, and pan to return throughout the next ROWnd, which looks to be a more subdued, continuing kind of affair…at least, right now.


  • Continue joining hops, fests, challenges, and other community blogging efforts.
  • This goal is a success. I was engaged with various ongoing and one-time challenges throughout the ROWnd.


  • Comment on and share blogs regularly; share my blogs as widely as seems feasible, and in diverse ways.
  • I did this with some regularity, but not to the degree I had hoped. And, as for answering comments on my own blog, and on my posted items and groups – well, I am, what we called in waitress parlance, “in the weeds”. I will be making this a higher priority in the next ROWnd, and hope to make some progress with the dozens of unanswered existing commnets during the break.
  • Do 3 guest posts and  host 3 guest bloggers this round.
  • This was a fail, but not a complete one. I wad featured on Elizabeth Anne Mithchell as a guest poster. I have a nearly completed essay to submit to Eden Mabee, and several other offers I will be following up on as I go through the mountain of comments I will be answering soon…I also have an essay submitted to Cooperative Catalyst, and have been casually noting larger blogs that feature guest posters. I feel that three was perhaps a bit too ambitious beginning, here, Nonetheless, it was good to feel the resistance, to move with it instead of fighting it, and to learn along the way.
  • I have hosted one guest poster, Elizabeth Anne Mitchell. I love what she wrote, and giving her a place to share it, and am honored that she shared. I would lie to host MANY more guest bloggers…HINT, HINT!


    Fun with Midi and Blaster!


  •  Submit at least 10 pieces of flash fiction or poetry this round.
  • I completed 6 submissions, with two or three more at stages near readiness or waiting for revision and/or resubmission.
  • I feel this was a modified success rather than a fail. I branched out with my submissions, and I researched several markets. I received payment for two poems published at the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette.
  • I became more comfortable with the process, and am currently developing several WIPs for future submissions, as well as considering a collection of flash fiction stories as an ebook.
  • Submit at least 5 essays or lists this round.


  • Continue submitting to hops, challenges, fests, etc.; at least 3 each month.
  • This was absolutely a success, as I entered at least three challenges per month, and generally more.



  •  Organize all photos on hard drive/move to organized Picasa web albums or delete.
  • I had thought this would be a one and done proposition, but it seems to be an ongoing effort. I am going to call it a modified success, because there is a structure in place I can use, and I am regularly using it, even if things do tend to get a bit chaotic when I am really busy…having a system is a wonderful step!


  • Learn how to watermark pictures.
  • This goal was attained rather early in the ROWnd.


  • Watermark all photos that appear on my blogs, and all those I post going forward; begin watermarking favorites not on blogs.
  • This was a success, more or less. I am not positive every photo is watermarked, but I have the means to do so quickly, which serves m purposes a little better for doing it as I go. I also adapted this, so that I will add watermarks as I edit and update posts, rather with dealing with the 100+ posts that have pre-watermark images on them in one huge, tine-devouring chunk.


    Piggie Love!


  •  Explore marketing articles on my Facebook Writer Page.
  • This goal was successfully attained. I read several articles, and, in the process, have discovered several really nifty places to discover more about this marketing business.


  • Add useful articles to my shanjeniah  Marketing Articles page.
  • This goal was also attained. My Marketing Articles page isn’t overflowing but there is some good information there!
  • Use this information to help define my direction; adjust as needed.
  • This is still evolving organically. As a matter of fact, that is my direction. No marketing will be real or useful to me if it cannot fit around the non-negotiables in my life – Jim, Miah, Lise, the critters, travel, home and yardtending, and actually writing stuff to market! I am planning to remain true to my voice and purpose, to grow and stretch to the degree I can manage sustainably (allowing for ebb and flow), and to be as bold as I am, in any given moment. For now, that seems direction enough, and I am therefore calling this a success.


    Scenes from my cottage gardens and experimental pantings….


  •  Get Scrivener  downloaded; begin learning by inputting first an essay, and then Blood and Breath.
  • Due to my having lost (hopefully only temporarily, but I have made my peace with it if it’s permanent) most of the chapters I wrote for NaNoWrimo 2009, I chose to instead create a story arc for Blood and Breath, and input Chameleon’s Dish, my 2011NaNo draft, completed in Round 1, instead.
  • I came within three chapters and the epilogue of inputting Chameleon’s Dish. I call this a modified success – most of the novel is in Scrivener, and I feel much more at home with the program. I’m looking forward to being able to go through the editing process scene by scene, in coming ROWnds!
  • I also came within about six chapters and an epilogue of completing the story arc for Blood and Breath. Again, a modified success – I can feel the rest of the arc taking shape, and will likely complete it before the next draft begins, when I plan to create a flash fiction piece around each point in the arc, as a precursor to writing a new rough draft.


  • Use Twitter and Tweetdeck at least one day a week.  Learn more.
  • I adapted this goal as well, swapping Tweetdeck for Hootsuite. By the end of the ROWnd, I was more familiar with all three, but none seem native, and I may end up dropping HootSuite Pro, as I have not used it in some weeks. I averages a day most, but not all weeks. So, this is a bit of a success, and a bit of a fail, but much was learned along the way, which was the real purpose.


  • For WordPress, create a running list of questions; work on finding answers!
  • This was a success. I came up with about a dozen questions, and found answers for most of them. I an sure I will have more of both as time goes on!


Kinetic Energy!
  • Begin learning about how to publish ebooks.
  • Also a success. I have a great site or two I am in the process of exploring, and, while the process still seems foreign, it doesn’t seem nearly as mysterious and alien as it did at the beginning of the ROWnd. By year’s end, I hope to know much more, and maybe, just maybe, have a thing or two in progress….we’ll see!


  • Learn what I can do with my domain name.
  • This was a success, although I would need to spend considerably more money each year to use this domain name for much. This may be a possibility, in future, but I’m not comfortable doing that, yet. I can, in theory, attach my Google email to it, but I haven‘t made that attempt yet – it looks a little complex, and is triggering my tech-phobia a little…


  • Begin research list/research for  Chameleon’s Dish second draft.
  • A definite success. I made a list, and, before the end of the ROWnd, I found several useful Internet sites, and borrowed some relevant books from our local library.



  •  Edit all 2009 posts on  The Unfettered Life.  Consider layout and design changes.
  • I didn’t even come close to attaining this goal! There were about 57 posts, the vast majority as-yet unedited, and I really knew it was too much…I plead temporary ROW insanity! I intend to keep moving forward on this goal, using a much saner schedule.
  • I did do some pretty major layout changes, but much remains to be done before it’s close to where I envision it. Thankfully, there are ROWnds in the future….the near future!


  • Take clips from first Penzu notebook.
  • I almost had this one. At Rownd’s end, I had clipped all but the final three posts. I hope to get to these before the next ROWnd begins, so that my figurative slate will be clear, at least for this.


  • Input Blood and Breath and Chameleon’s Dish to Scrivener.
  • This goal was modified fairly early in the ROWnd, when I realized I did not have the chapters I needed to input Blood and Breath.My progress on this goal is listed above.


  • Clean up computer downloads, documents, photos, and other clutter – move it or lose it!
  • I made progress here, but it seems that this will be an ongoing project for me, as I have so many projects going at once.
  • However, I now have a much more workable filing system, so that when I am in an ebb point, creatively, I can tidy things up fairly quickly.
  • I’ve also gotten an 8g memory card, so that I can back up my writing files, maybe not needing to keep everything in the laptop all the time..


This year’s experiments…..


  • Add JOY to every day!
  • I attained this goal….it was a joyful, and sometimes infuriating, ROWnd!


  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • I moved this ROWnd. Not as much or as regularly as I would have preferred, but much more than I might have.


  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • More some weeks than others…I counted things like a smile and being sun-kissed. I like natural self-decoration! A modified success.


  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • I did well at this, never before in my life have I claimed my writing or myself so fully and passionately and naturally! BIG SUCCESS!!!!


  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • I did fairly well at this one, but, of course, there is always room to be kinder, sweeter, and more fun! A success.


 Administrative Stuff:

  • Write and submit third quarter reports for both children.  These are due on June 1, 2012.
  • I attained this goal, even a little early, for both Jeremiah and Annalise.


  • Cleanup email folders/organize, move, read, delete, act upon as needed.
  • I cleaned up the chaos. I also wanted to read through what remains, and sort new email as it came in, but those things fell by the wayside as I got really busy with other goals. However, once again, having a system to sort things in ebb phases will make the task simpler, which means I will be more likely to take a few minutes here or there to tend to it, or even, in busuer times, just prune a bit here and thee. A success.


  • Input two writing practice notebooks to Penzu.
  • I modified this goal to one notebook about midway through, but still did not finish. I reached page 68 of 120, Tm many other things to do, and this more mundane project was often shuffled to the end of my list of things to work on. Next ROWnd, I will take on a bit less, and, hopefully, get my notebook transcribed, because there is a wealth of goodness in what I’ve done, so far, and, also, there is something very powerful in getting to know my former self, and how the things that occupied her life have grown, faded, or evolved. A fail, but a good effort, nonetheless.


  • Take critters to the vet; renew Corki’s dog licence.
  • A partial success. Vet visits done, but the Town Clerk was closed on Friday afternoon when Jim went (it’s a small town). Hopefully, we’ll get that tended to this week, before the dog control officer knocks on the door to check in on us – yes, it IS a small town, and he will!


  • Pay remaining balances for summer trips to Unschoolers Rock the Campground and Northeast Unschooling Conference.
  • I paid the campground fee, and started the process of allowing the hotel to charge the card number they have on file. It looks a little complex, so I set it aside for a bit, until I have a quiet moment (once I open the link, I only have 15 minutes to complete the process. A little nervous-making, that! I am calling this a partial success.


So there you have it, my assessment of my accomplishments for this ROWnd. As ofr what I have learned and how I have grown, or the insights I’ve gained – well, I think I will let them present themselves as they will. It feels too son for that type of evaluation, and also a bit like looking a gift Vulcan in the mouth….

Until we meet again, I’ll be ROWin’ on…..



Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, ROWnd #2, Uncategorized

ROW,ROW, ROW…Goals Update #22 (unfinished)

Round 2 Goals:


  • Read at least 3 articles a week from my To Be Read files on computer, and categorize those I choose to keep or share.
  • I read A Poverty Solution that Starts With a Hug, and shared.
  • I read Sacred Wounds, and shared.
  • I have read 2 of 3 posts for this week. I will add one to this final week’s goals.
  • I have read 4 of 5 blog posts for this week…I will add one to the final week’s goal.


  •  Submit at least 10 pieces of flash fiction or poetry this round.
  • I have moved my 800 word flash erotica story, “Twice-Coupled”, to its own Libre Office file.
  • I will be preparing this piece for submission during the coming days.
  • I will also be mining my Flash Fiction in Progress files for potential projects.
  • I have submitted (and received a rejection for(, Twice-Coupled. It was not a good fit for the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette, which wants more realism (not a problem; I like real sex!).
  • I will be researching erotica markets more in line with the style (fantasy, mythical, spriritual; probably a female oriented publication…).
  • I received a rejection from monkeybicycle for “A Splash of Red”.
  • I re-edited, and submitted to Fix It Broken.
  • I have submitted 6 of 10 pieces toward this goal.
  • Submit at least 5 essays or lists this round.
  • I have a completed first draft of my potential guest post for Eden Mabee’s blog.
  • Next, I will review her guidelines, to be certain that what I have can become what she is looking for.
  • I have reformatted, edited, and added notes to this essay. It has a lot of substance, but it took me some time to really get a feel for saying what I was trying to say, and there is a lot of fumbling….
  • I will reread and rewrite, after I sleep.
  • I have another bit of stream- of – consciousness that may or may not amount to another essay. I will reread it tomorrow, and then decide.
  • I’ve revised the potential guest post,and am now letting it rest for a bit before going back to it.
  • I will also be mining my Essays in Progress file for additional projects.
  • I have submitted 3 of 5 essays toward this goal.


  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Thursday: Gardening!
  • Friday: More gardening….
  • Saturday: Venting.
  • Sunday: Resolving.
  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Thursday:  Gardening, hometending.
  • Friday: Gardening, weeding, hometending.
  • Saturday: Hometending, gardening.
    : More gardeing, more hometending. Guinea cage cleaning.
  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • I wire myself, as I was, all week….
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Thursday: Gardening, reading, writing.
  • Friday: Trip to library, enjoying the weather.
  • Saturday: Honoring my need to vent.
  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • I think I slipped some on this.  Still, a trip to the library, my affection, and honesty.

 Administrative Stuff:

  • Input June 2000 writing practice notebooks to Penzu.
  • I am on page 54of 120 toward meeting this goal.
  • Take critters to the vet; renew Corki’s dog licence.
  • Both Corki and Margot have appointments for Thursday, June 21
  • Corki’s license can be renewed the following day.
  • Pay remaining balances for summer trips to Northeast Unschooling Conference.
  • I called the hotel. They will (or maybe have, as I write this) email me a card authorization form, and, once they receive it, they will charge the room to the card.
  • I have looked at the process for the online form. It’s a bit intimidating. I am waiting for a calmish moment when I am focused but not too busy…

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Life Writing

The Venom Club – Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge

Below is my entry for this week’s  Flash Fiction Challenge over at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds.  This piece was written during a sleepless writing night, when dreams and memory and fancy braid together….

I wrote it spontaneously,just after reading the prompt,  and went with what my mind tossed upstream-of-consciousness style, then let it rest a little while, then gave it a very light edit.

More asleep than awake, I really like it.  Maybe you will, too….

The Venom Club

Copyright 2012 by Shan Jeniah Burton

Some places are obvious about their purposes,. The Waterford Harbor Farmer’s Market, for example, looks like nothing else but a farmer’s market. It nestles up close to the bank of the Erie Canal, which looks exactly like – well, a canal, with a huge lock within walking distance.

The market proper is set up each summer Sunday on the wide walking path. The paved path is inlaid with a brick pattern – a pattern which traces the course of the Erie Canal – “from Albany to Buffalo“, as the song says.

If one looks closely, one might spot something else, there. There are two sets of unobtrusive tracks in the concrete…. a pair of bare human feet, and the track of horseshoes.

These are reminders of something that could be easily forgotten…once, this very path was a mule path, and many bare and hoofed feet traveled here..

The Venom Club, though, gives away nothing of its purpose in its appearance. As a matter of fact, you may have passed it yourself, if you happened down a certain winding road that still retains many elements of its beginnings as a farm road, unpaved in respect for the Holsteins brought across, twice daily, between the milking barns and the pasture.

Although occasionally there have been loose cows or horses, and there are occasional severe storms, and even a minor earthquake or two, it doesn’t seem like a dangerous place. The coyotes and hawks belong to the land; they pose only natural threats – usually to rabbits and wild turkeys..

Ah, but there is the matter of The Venom Club.

I’m warning you now, but you aren’t likely to believe me.

That’s because the members of club are consummate masters of disguise – they have to be.

Even a spitting cobra needs to get close enough to strike.

So, I am going to warn you, because I feel I need to – even knowing that you probably won’t believe me.

It’s easier, sometimes, to pretend all is just as it seems – in this case an inviting house set a little back on a pleasantly manicured lawn.

I know – it looks peaceful and embracing. I see you shaking your head, and the doubt in your eyes. You see what you see, after all, and the people in that peaceful looking home seem friendly enough to you.

I wonder if you know how clearly your face says that you think I am out for vengeance, or, maybe, just paranoid.

I know you’re going to wait until I go away, and then you’re going to walk up those inviting steps, and you are going to knock.

I knew you’d see only the surface, and miss the eddies and swirling whirlpool currents of the depths….

You will believe as you will, and choose as you will. And, for a while, all will seem well….

But, whether you believe it or not, it IS The Venom Club, and you are in grave danger the instant you relax your watchfulness.

It is The Venom Club, and its specialty is to lay perfectly camouflaged ambushes….

You won’t see it coming, and I won’t be there to give a warning you wouldn’t want to here,anyway….

But I know.

In the most pleasant of houses, poison lurks….

I know.

I grew up there.

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, ROWnd #2

Lightly ROWing Along….Goals Update #21

At my last check-in, I was pondering what will happen if some of my ambitious goals have not been met when midnight comes on June 22….

Basically, nothing special. I won’t lament it, even….

I will just keep on writing, and lving, in ways that make sense and being me joy, and leave me free to enjoy life, and to be there when my family needs me…

Round 2 Goals:



  • Input Chameleon’s Dishto Scrivener.
  • After some stumbling around through the transition from November’s NaNo writings, done on Diigo, and those that began in January, at 750 Words, I think I have located all missing scenes thus far, and have a coherent draft into Chapter 7.
  • I am continuing to input scenes from chapter 7 (originally Chapter 14).
  • I found the last remaining chunk of missing text (I only downloaded part of January’s 750 words posts – ooops!).
  • I have now completed Chapters 7 and8, and am partially throughChapter 9 (which was Chapter 16. I recall that these middle chapters were long and rambling as I played with ideas and plotlines and characters.
  • There is still one snarl I will need to remedy – a misplaced and fragmented scene. I have highlighted one of the relevant passages, and will fix it once I have collected them all.
  • Other than that, the transcription process should proceed smoothly, as I am far more familiar with the program, and I now have all the text I need to finish.
  • I completed Chapters 9, 10, and 11 (original chapter 18). I inadvertently made a fornatting error on Chapter 11, which it looks like I can fix, but I may need to play around a bit to accomplish that, which I will do before moving on to Chapter 12.
  • There were 25 chapters in the rough draft, I am at the beginning of Chapter 19’s text.
  • This leaves six chapters and an epilogue left to transcribe in order to attain this goal.
  • Create story arc for Blood and Breath.
  • I reread Chapters Tenand Eleven,for reference.
  • I wrote the story arc for Chapters Twelve and Thirteen.
  • Use Twitter and Tweetdeck at least one day a week.  Learn more.
  • I actually used Twitter for some chatting, Tuesday night, and also for writing sprints.
  • I am dropping the idea of needing to use it once a week, though.
  • If I get more comfortable with it, and find it more personally relevant, I know I will begin using it more regularly.
  • So, this goal will now read: Use Twitter and other social media platforms as desired. Learn more.
  • This goal has been attained.
  • For WordPress, create a running list of questions; work on finding answers!
  • I have reviewed and added some comments to my list.
  • I have at least briefly answered most of the questions on the list, and I don’t have any more at the moment.
  • I will be setting this list aside, unless something I really want to know crops up, until the next ROWnd.
  • This goal has been attained.
  • Begin learning about how to publish ebooks.
  • I have a very good source or two to explore in more detail; but that will wait until the next ROWnd. I am definitely in a producing rather than absoebing phase, at the moment, and I likely will be until the Rownd has ended.
  • This goal has been attained.
  • Begin research list/research for  Chameleon’s Dish second draft.
  • I have a list, and also some resources (as well as ideas for explanding those resources in diverse ways).
  • I intend to explore attaching the list to Scrivener, so that I can keep a running list of questions and answers while I edit and do the rough revisions I’m planning, before preparing for a full rewrite.
  • Until then, I will likely set this list aside, for now, until I am ready for that experimentation.
  • I have borrowed several volumes from our local library, which I will use to get a basic sense of just what I want to learn more about before I move into the rewrite.
  • I will be exploring these books during the next several weeks, and compiling a more detailed list; which I can then explore in greater detail…
  • This goal has been attained.


  •  Explore She WritesTwitterStoryDamPinterest;and LinkedIn .  Use, develop, evaluate, adjust.
  • I have been intermittently exploring these sites, but have found that I am using far more of my writing time for actually writing and reading, orediting and organizing, at the moment.
  • I ‘ve come to the conclusion that I will be appearing in new virtual places only as the natural flow of life allows, so that my explorations will be born of interest, and not out of some sense of duty.
  • I will continue to learn and evolve in these areas, as opportunity and desire present themselves.
  • This goal has been attained, although I will continue the research into the next round, and possibly beyond.
  • Continue joining hops, fests, challenges, and other community blogging efforts.
  • I have joined the Flicker of Inspiration linkup for this week with my flash fiction piece, The Pickle Barrel Incident, inspired by Jeremiah’s (long overdue) birth…
  • I have been entering these events consistently throughout the ROWnd, as I have felt able to, and will continue to do so,
  • This goal has been attained throughout the round, although I will continue entering challenges and other blogging venues as the opportunity arises.
  • Comment on and share blogs regularly; share my blogs as widely as seems feasible, and in diverse ways.
  • I feel as though I’ve really had a hard time with this one.
  • I’ve been very busy with living, and with writing and organizing, and this fell by the wayside.
  • I’d like to be able to be more supportive, so I will set fewer goals next round, and give this one more priority.
  • Do 3 guest posts and  host 3 guest bloggers this round.
  • I have written most of the rough draft of an essay which I hope will be my second guest post.
  • I have an idea about where and what my third guest post will be.
  • I am still seeking two guest bloggers for shanjeniah.
  • However, I am not into forcing things.
  • Sima garo will provide. I need only be open to it. =)
  • I have posted one guest blogger.
  • I have submitted one guest post.


  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Monday: Relaxing day; puttering; reading;writing; family time; venting.
  • Tuesday: Solitude, reading, puttering, writing, connection with family and dear friend.
  • Wednesday: Supplies for various projects, library, family time, reading, exploring.
  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Monday: Gardening and weeding; hometending.
  • Tuesday: Mellow hometending.
  • Wednesday: Shopping; library visit; short in-village walk; hometending; carrrying heavy bags of soil, groceries, and library books.
  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • So far this week, I have worn my blue streaks, anti-frizz cream, pretty shirts, and a whole lotta joy!
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Monday: Reading; writing; hometending; yardtending.; family connection; spousal intimacy.
  • Tuesday: Reading; writing; creating: hometending; time to myself; a visit with Eden Mabee; playing.
  • Wednesday: Happy afternoon shopping and to library with kids; induging bibliophilia; homrtending; writing; reading; researching.
  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • Jeremiah: Helped with birthday list; trip to library and new card; cuddles and conversation.
  • Jim: Spousal time; conversation; supported his fishing trip.
  • Annalise: Helped with her birthday list; read aloud; trip to library; new card; paid fine; lots of yesses; cuddles; play; conversation.

So, why am I, after all the hard work and goal setting, and striving, not terribly worried about whther I complete these goals?

Well, I do have all the hard work and passion I put in. I wanted to write and to pursue those specific goals – but the end date is just an arbitrary point in time. I am not a failure if I need more time than that. I am a person pursuing a goal, and delighting in the process...

My thoughts and perceptions are shifting and deepening. I earned a tiny little bit of money with my writing this round; in the first, I didn’t.

I don’t need the validation of money, and money is a supremely useful tool when I want to trade it for something I value more.

I’ve been published in more places, and I have submitted in more places. No, it’s still not commonplace; yes, it is still fraught with a nameless apprehension, mixing with anticipation.

It’s sharing my words and my truth with more of the world, and I am feeling quite brave about it…

There are still more reasons, but it’s past dawn outside, and I have been reading, writing, watching PBS (the War of 1812), and playing Cake Mania 2 all nigt long… I am going to go to sleep….soon!

I haven’t posted the Linky, lately, so here it is.…have a ROW with some other amazing writers!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Writing Samples

The Pickle Barrel Incident

The Pickle Barrel Incident

copyright 2012 by Shan Jeniah Burton

Ella half-dropped, half-fell into the chair, sending an uncomfortable heavy jolt into her back, to join the dull, insistent pain that had been with her for the past three days.

She wasn’t at all sure she wanted a sandwich anymore – she had wanted it so intensely she could almost taste it, only a few minutes ago, but now that she was in the cool but crowded little deli, occupying a chair right near the door at the only available table and smelling aromas mixing and coagulating all around her, she felt disoriented and slightly nauseating.

The place was packed – it was Labor Day Saturday, and everyone, it seemed, had plans to be somewhere – and, maybe, the Pickle Barrel was the perfect stopping- off place for many of those plans.

Ella had always been a little overwhelmed by too many people, too many conversations, in too small a space, and, now, she was acutely aware of how the snatches of conversation wove and wound through one another, a whirling calliope of noise and ideas and laughter and edginess that made her feel oddly dizzy, as though she should be able to take it all in and understand it –

But she couldn’t.

“And so I told him he was grounded for a week, and he YELLED at me – ”

“I’m thinking of dying my hair blonde and trying Botox– maybe THEN he’ll notice -”

“She wants a nice house and a Lexus, then she bitches that I never spend time with her and the kids -”

“I’m not dead yet -”

The noise becomes a droning, irritating constant, meaning nothing, and Ella wondered why they’d come here, why she insisted to Mike that they needed to stop walking out in that damned Montana heat, and go into the deli, “where it’ll be cooler, and we can just sit and take it easy for a while.”
He stood at the counter, now, not looking back at her, because he was focused on the matter of procuring food…

Food she no longer wanted.

Ella felt herself shifting, away from the physical plane of empty conversation just meant to fill in the space between bites, and the mundanity of buying and eating food. It was just background, meaningless, punctuated by the occasional nuisance of someone passing by her chair, which was almost in the flow of traffic – the other tables were all full when they came in, and moving was too much of a bother, now that she was sitting at last.

That dull pain in her back sharpened – although she had known it would, Ella gasped at its power, then stared around the room as the band of pain tightened and wrapped itself hard around her belly…

She was sure everyone must be staring, and know that she was having a powerful contraction. She felt naked and raw and elemental, as though she were a wild animal, there in the deli, and surely everyone must be as held in that primal, seizing grip as she and her baby were…

But no one seemed to even notice her; so busy with their empty chatter and filling bellies –

The baby, as if protesting this forcible eviction, shoved a knee up under her rib, and Ella bit her lip to keep from crying out.

Suddenly, this seemed far too strange and public place to be, and Ella wanted to jump up and tell Mike they needed to get out of here, right now, and go back home, where their midwife was waiting for them.

But she couldn’t. The pain – insistent, indescribably powerful, and somehow, paradoxically, pleasant – would not allow it. Her mind was turned inward, and her energy was precious, being conserved for the birthing to come –

Mike had the sandwiches now, as the pain hit its peak, and was turning toward her, with a smile to see that she had found them a place.

As he began threading through the closely-strewn tables, Ella felt a gushing and a release of pressure, and the chair beneath her became very wet…
She was panting, now, and sweating, and, although Mike was saying something, she could not make out his meaning. she felt an instinctive need to curl herself around her middle, to bring all of herself to focus on her womb.

“Here’s your sub, Honey- I’ll go back for the drinks – ”

“Ma’am, I think you spilled your -”

Both men stopped; Ella didn’t have the focus, now, to answer either of them, as they silently stared.

The pain was subsiding, but, almost at once, another rolling wave built, and crested, hardly falling off before gathering again, and again….

Ella slipped from the chair, no longer caring who saw, and used it as a brace, and was barely aware of the exclamations and questions, as she shoved her shorts and panties down, and crouched right there, holding to the wooden chair for support.

There was nothing else but this, this compelling need to push, to bear down, to help the child make this first, most important journey….

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Challenges and Contests, ROWnd #2

ROWin’ Strong and Steady…Goals Update #20

I keep wanting to write the type of long, winding essays and musings i was  writing last ROW, as though that’s the proper way to do these updates, since it was the way i began.

We had a saying when I waittressed at Yellowstone‘s Old Faithful Inn – in its season, at that time, the fifth busiest restaurant in the world.  We used it especially at lunchtime, when the crowd coming in post- eruption of Old Faithful –  hungry, tired, maybe slightly deflated people –  merged with the group desperate to get out to the boardwalks or balconies in time for the next “show” –  harried, impatient people who didn’t usually seem to relaize that the geyser has been doing its thing failrly reliably for a really long time, hence the name! – and creating a logistical nightmare for the staff…

“Talk less; smile more. “

I set myself very ambitious goals this round – so ambitious, in fact, that several people actually seemed a little alarmed by them – as though I would burn myself out, or forgo any semblance of a normal life, or maybe they feared that I had lost my mind.

If I have, it happened long ago, and blissfully.

As it turns out, I had a reason that even I didn’t realize…

 But more on that later….

Round 2 Goals:


  • Read at least as many books as the number of the month (4 in April ; 5 in May; 6 in June) from my bedroom To Be Read piles.
  • The Teenage Liberation Handbook page 373 of 435.
  • When Dinosaurs Ruled the Basement(aloud, with Annalise) – Completed.
  • The Trumpet of the Swan (aloud, with Annalise) – page 138 of 210.
  • I expect to have finished both of these books before my Thursday check-in, and to have begun at least one more.
  • I have completed 1 of 6 books towards this month’s goal.


  • I have an account of the absent-mindedness that accompanied Miah’s birth….it’s not really where I want it to be – I think I want fiction, but based on the deli….I’m going to dream on it, and hope I can draw out the scene I want to explore…
  • Reread the story as written Saturday am. I have decided to narrow the setting, and make the next account more fictional, or more focused on that moment of sensory intensity and inner/outer schism.
  • I then wrote a series of thoughts and questions based upon the first passage, to consider as I move on to other writing, family, and hometending activities.
  • I’ve written another passage, and now will give it more breathing room while more detail and plot, and perhaps some dialogue, reveal themselves. I have a shadowy sense of it, but nothing more concrete, so, rather than forcing, I will move on, and return later.
  • I’ve added notes and musings on a conclusion to the story in progress… I will embellish, and add the ending in the next rotation….I’ve had a dramatic idea, but my mind wants to play with it a while longer.
  • I now have most of a fragmented draft. Monday’s task – finish, polish, link.
  • I checked on the Unschooling Blog Carnival it’s taking July off, so there will be no June 25 deadline. It resumes in August with the theme: Vacation. I already have several good ideas to seed in my subconscious for a while…
  • Add pages/ edit sidebar layout on shanjeniah.
  • Now that I actually have five publishing credits (and plan to have many more!), I have begun to add links to and edit my new page,Where on the Web is Shan Jeniah?
  • Once I am at least temporarily satisfied with the lay of the land, I will be posting this page, as a quick place to post my credits, by category.
  • The page is nearly ready. I am debating the issue of images; but may lay that aside until I’ve ha more time to consider it.
  • I expect to add a personal image, and, and then to publish the page, in celebration of my accomplishments, and as my credits page.
  • The page was published early Saturday morning, and updated Saturday prevening, because my first guest post, Shan Jeniah on Kinship, has been posted atElizabeth Anne Mitchell.
  • I have begun a page for my growing assortment of blogging awards, after which, I will be able to further tidy my sidebar, and contemplate how to create slide shows of the relevant badges for both challenges and awards….

Administrative Stuff:

  • Cleanup email folders/organize, move, read, delete, act upon as needed.
  • I have moved some misplaced files from my Acceptance Emails folder.
  • I checked my Archives folder (only one essential message there).
  • I moved one misplaced email from my Computer Info file.
  • I went through my Homeschool Items file, deleting a few items I no longer need.
  • Input two writing practice notebooks to Penzu.
  • I am on page 51 of 120 of notebook 1.
  • I have decided to reduce this goal to one notebook. Two is more than I an going to be able to manage. There’s good fodder aplenty in these notebooks, but the transcribing takes time and energy.
  • I think I will stick with one a ROW, at least for now…
  • This goal now reads: Input June 2000 Writing Practice Notebook to Penzu.
  • I have 69 pages left to input, in order to attain this goal.
  • Take critters to the vet; renew Corki’s dog license.
  • I plan on talking to Jim in the next day or so about when we can budget this in, and then make appointments for both Corki-dog and Margot the Manx.
  • After the rabies shot has been administered, we can renew Corki’s dog license, which will expire soonish.
  • Talked to Jim, and have gotten clearance to make the appointments, which I will do on Monday (unless I forget!).
  • Pay remaining balances for summer trip to theNortheast Unschooling Conference.
  • Again, I plan to talk to Jim about paying for the hotel room in advance, in the next week or two, so that that bill doesn’t run into our summer birthday season, which runs from July 8, to September 2.
  • Jim approved this for this week as well, so I hope to call and pay for the room on Monday. We may still have a room charge or two, but not the larger chunk of the room to deal with.


  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Thursday: A gentle day, mowing and reading aloud to Lise. Reeading Chameleon’s Dish draft…
  • Friday: Weeding, cleaning piggie cage, more reading aloud. Finished rereading – it has more punch than I remembered!
  • Saturday: Trip to Country Living (local center for gardening and farm needs; I’ve been going
  • there since I was about Lise’s age) with Lise to buy seeds and soil and guinea stuff. Delightful visit; saw fledgling turkey pullets. Jim!
  • Sunday: Weeding, planning, beginning to plant. The Trumpet of the Swan. Flash fiction.
  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Thursday: Mowing, hometending.
  • Friday: Mower fail (weather); weeding; hometending.
  • Saturday: Feed store with Lise,;hometending; playtime.
  • Sunday: Weeding; hometending; gardening.
  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • I decorated myself with plans and delight this week.
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Thursday: Lots of reading, play, connection, hometending, rereading my own WIP, Chameleon’s Dish, and loving it.
  • Friday: Finished Chameleon’s Dish reread. Yard and hometending; reading; play; connection.
  • Saturday: Gardening prep; lots of time with Lise and Jim.
  • Sunday: Garden plan and setup stuff; connection with all immediate family members.
  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • Jim: Spousal time; general state of peace; musing about future possibilities; facilitated allowance discussion.
  • Annalise: Lots of reading aloud; birthday planning; dreaming; playing; facilitated allowance discussion.
  • Jeremiah: Honored his current nocturnal schedule; pre-approved birthday gift wish list; conversation and snuggles; facilitated allowance discussion.

Some cool videos/sites Annalise and I visited this week:

So, back to the reason I chose to set such a diverse and ambitious set of goals…

I wanted to know something, and I was the only one who could give an answer.

I wanted to know how much I am capable of, at this point in my life, without sacrificing the rest of life.

And I really wanted to move forward in each of the areas I set goals in.

Now, nearing the end of the challenge, I have accomplished a fair amount of what was on that list.

I’ve adjusted a few of the goals, as it seemed a wise path, and I may alter more, in the next 11 days….

Will I finish everything on the list?

I really don’t know –  but, surprisingy, I’m coming to realize that that really isn’t as important as the attempt….

More next time!  I’m off, now, to –

Talk less; Smile more. 

Posted in Challenges and Contests, One-Minute Writer Posts

One-Minute Writer – “Friend”

Friend is such a bland word for her, and for what we share, no ship at the end will do. She is more, so much more. She is sister, confidante, adventurer, sometimes foe, always intensely a part of my life, since we were only 4. How can a single word do?

(S. Foster and E. Dorn, long, long ago…)

This post was written using a prompt from One-Minute writer.